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Advanced Style: The Fashion Blog That’s Got All Ages Talking

Complete with unique stories and styles that deserve recognition, a groundbreaking blog and documentary to match is guaranteed to turn fashion blogging on it’s head.

Source: Advanced Style Instagram

Where fashion blogging has somewhat defined itself among the convention of the young and trendy, a refreshing documentary has surfaced that’s sure to redefine our conceptions of fashion and beauty across different ages. Inspired by the enigmatic subjects of his blog, Advanced StyleAri Seth Cohen‘s film explores in more detail seven stylish older ladies and their fashions.

An age where fashion and style is heavily dismissed in favour of conforming to what the consumer and industry expect, Cohen’s film shines a light on the fact that our older generations have more rightful claim to dabbling in fashion than anybody else. Having invented and predetermined a vast majority of the fashions gracing the catwalk today, the film captures in full vigour the ebullience of energy for fashion as displayed by the documentary’s stars.

Established in 2008, the blog has enjoyed a steady success to now, having inspired a look-book in 2012, which now in it’s 7th edition has received praise from The New Yorker and Vogue Italia, as well as Marc Jacob’s citing inspiration from the blog and the subjects for his A/W 2012 collection. That said, it hasn’t been a quick road to success for creator/photographer Cohen and filmmaker Lina Plioplyte.

What began as a project to film short videos of the subjects soon revealed to encompass something more ambitious, so while filming for the documentary began in 2008, funding was still being generated through Kickstarter in 2012 to raise the vital $55,441 to assist the film’s completion. Plioplyte confesses; “I pulled a lot of favours to bring the film in on budget. People were going crazy for them on YouTube – we were getting, you know, 50,000 views,” she says. “Suddenly it seemed like the story was much, much bigger than just a video or two.” 

Source: Advanced Style Instagram

Initially, many of the women were sceptical of Cohen’s project and enforced stern warnings that they were not to be messed with. Jacquie Murdock, a retired dancer was wearing a Courrèges jacket when Cohen approached her, to which she warned him; “I’m a professional – I could sue you if you use my image without my permission.” While Cohen’s vision captured the interest of most women he approached, it wasn’t all a success.

“Some women say yes, and some women say no. And that’s just how it is,” he says. “If they’re 83 years old and they’re out on the street, it’s because they have somewhere to be.” It’s the one’s who weren’t brave enough to say yes who are sure to be kicking themselves ahead of the documentary’s release.

I remember one lady on Lexington in her 60s – she had old movie-star red hair, gold belt, leopard-print jacket…” Cohen ponders with regret. Though arguably, in today’s media circle, there’s no way of knowing how the subject of the camera can be manipulated into something completely different, and like many, fashion is often a means of covering insecurities and defining identities.

“What I present on my blog is very positive,” says Cohen, who is 32. “I don’t really show the negative aspects of ageing, because that’s already in the media. But in making the movie we definitely wanted to show the struggles.” He says thoughtfully. “It’s something that we usually don’t have to think about when we’re young.”

Cohen’s quirky fondness for older people is celebrated through his friendship with one of the blog’s stars, Ilona Royce Smithkin, a 94 year old fashionista instantly recognised for her flame-haired locks. A polish-born artist and now – model, Ilona’s energy for life and wealth of experiences makes for an enigmatic persona characterised by her words. “I think people expect too much of themselves, and that’s not for happy-making,” she says. “In trying to be perfect you miss half of your life.”

Source: Advanced Style Instagram

Another European creative, Joyce Carpati too fled her war-torn country, leaving an opera study in Milan for safety just after the second world war, she tells how; “You still saw bullet holes in the buildings, and people really did not have an easy time,” she says. “And yet in the afternoon they would come out dressed magnificently. Magnificently. I was there in the autumn and I saw a woman in a tweed suit and laced suede Oxfords… I thought: I love that!”

Of the seven ladies characterised in the documentary, the variety of styles from sartorial to fantastically zany is fashion diversity to it’s very finest. The women may be classified by their ethnic background, occupations or class, but their common similarities are what unite their stories into tales of relationships, identity, ageing and most importantly, self-confidence.  “We all want some kind of approval,” says Advanced Style star, Lynn Dell Cohen, “but I think you have to like yourself first.”

Distributed to a limited UK release, head to Advanced Style to see where the documentary is being screened near you.

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